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Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale


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What is Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale?

Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale, Inc. (POW) is a pet-visitation therapy program serving some 22 health care centers in Scottsdale, Arizona. From 80 to 100 volunteers visit the elderly and/or infirm for an hour each week, with their pets (mostly dogs and a few laid-back cats). The program is all volunteer, except for Carol Semon, the part-time Volunteer Coordinator. Its office is at the Granite Reef Senior Center in Scottsdale. Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale is not associated with any other pet therapy program. Peggy Eischen is the current President and CEO.


Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale was founded in 1990 by Neal C. Jennings, a retired civil engineer – with the help of his wife, Anne. They are shown here with a collage of their past therapy dogs, Jacques & Jill and Ronnie & Clyde. The water color painting, created by Scottsdale artist, and member of the POW Board, Diane Bykowski. was presented as a gift from the POW volunteers at a retirement reception October 25, 2012.

With the blessing and cooperation of the City, Neal started the pet visitation therapy program with two dogs and one nursing home. The premise was to provide a superior service to a limited area, rather than spread less frequent pet visits throughout the Valley.

Neal retired from the presidency in April 2012, after 22 years and over 20,000 volunteer hours, managing over 1,800 volunteer-pet teams visiting during that time. At the reception, a proclamation signed by Scottsdale’s Mayor, Jim Lane, was presented declaring October 25th as Neal Jennings day in Scottsdale. Both Neal and Anne have taken lesser roles in the organization. Ron Lonie took the reins from Neal as president for 2 years, followed by long-time volunteer and board member, Peggy Eischen.

What are the Benefits of Pet Visits?

It is well documented that the presence of pets is beneficial in improving the quality of life for socially-isolated residents of healthcare centers. Studies show that pet visits provide warmth and affection for everyone involved, laughter, recollection of pleasant memories, mental stimulation for Alzheimer's patients, reduction in blood pressure, distraction from depression, lessening of tension and stress, reduction in incidence of heart attacks, increase in incidence of survival and speed of recovery from heart attacks, comfort during periods of grief, motivation for therapy following injury or surgery, and a bright spot in the day -- just being there.

Dogs provide an uncomplicated, affection-on-demand relationship. They help break down the barriers among residents, staff, volunteers, and other visitors -- by being non-judgmental, non-threatening, and emotionally safe, a dog's unconditional affection can help bring care center residents out of their isolation and patients toward recovery.

For cat lovers, being able to stroke a cat, resting on a lap for only 5 minutes, can provide many of the above benefits. (Jennifer Clark is shown with Dr. J. Click on the photo to enlarge)

The Health Care Centers We Serve --

Volunteer-pet teams visit 16 nursing homes, 3 rehabilitation hospitals, 2 cancer centers, an adult day-care center, a school for low-achieving children, 3 Life Skill classes for developmentally challenged children, and a few homebound – a total of 1,800 to 2,200 individuals.  As of March 2009, over  500,000 times a Pets on Wheels volunteer has walked up to a resident or patient and asked,

Volunteer-pet teams visit 16 nursing homes, 3 rehabilitation hospitals, 2 cancer centers, an adult day-care center, a school for low-achieving children, 3 Life Skill classes for developmentally challenged children, and a few homebound – a total of 1,800 to 2,200 individuals. As of March 2009, over 500,000 times a Pets on Wheels volunteer has walked up to a resident or patient and asked, "Hi! Would you like to see my dog (or cat)? Above, Sandy McCollum and Dax are shown visiting at Westminster Village. (See menu item Health Care Centers)

Children’s Pet Education Project --

As an ancillary project, selected volunteers present 50-minute pet education programs to 650 to 1,000 second-grade children each year. Each of the classes (about 25 children) views a video, "Dogs, Cats, and Kids," to learn how to respect animals and avoid injury from them. The outstanding video and hands on with a real live dog, and a coloring book give the children information they may not get elsewhere. Handouts help the families.

Other Ancillary Projects --

Selected volunteers make monthly visits to seven sites, in addition to the nursing homes and elementary schools: The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center; the Scottsdale Radiation Oncology; Life Skills classes at Coronado High School, Sunrise Middle School, and Cortney's Place; the Adult Day Healthcare Center; and the New Learning Academy. Also, seasonal visits are made to homeless family gatherings through Family Promise of Greater Phoenix, and to the Different Limbs group. Click on the Ancillary Projects buttons on the menu for a discussion of each.

Board of Directors --

A Board of Directors, comprised of active visiting volunteers, meets periodically to approve major actions.

Volunteer Meetings --

Meetings with volunteers (only a few pets by invitation) are held every 3 months. Speakers or films are featured on dealing with the elderly, pet care and health, and pet training. Golf and T-shirts are available as well as 50-50 drawings and door prizes. The October meeting each year, is to recognize the volunteer-pet teams who have done exceptionally well. An awards program is featured, followed by a popular pet costume and trick show. (See the menu item "Calendar of Events" for meeting information.

About 97 percent of the volunteers have e-mail, which facilitates special announcements, inquiries, and dissemination of pertinent information.

Newsletter --

The Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale UPDATE newsletter is issued a few weeks prior to each quarterly meeting. It lists new volunteer-pet teams, announces past and future activities, and contains useful pet health and training information, and general volunteer news. Volunteers and applicants receive PDF copies through the Internet -- all others receive hard copies.

Funding --

Pets on Wheels is funded through corporate and foundation grants and individual contributions. Additional help is needed. See the "Funding and Contributors" button on the left-hand menu for additional information and a list of principal contributors.

Also, if you would like to make a donation right now, just click on the PayPal DONATE button at the top left of this or any page. A receipt for tax purposes will be sent to you -- and, thank you!

Volunteer-Pet Teams --

Click on the menu items near the bottom (on the left side of this page), New Volunteer-Pet Teams, or Veteran Volunteer-Pet Teams to see photos of the volunteer-pet teams which commensed visiting during the past few years as well as those which started earlier.

How to Join --

If you and your pet would like to become volunteers, click on the menu button "How to Become a Volunteer."

Calendar of Events --

Activities scheduled for the next several months -- near the bottom on left-hand menu. Changes will be made frequently, so check before leaving home.


E-mail: petsonwheels@aol.com

Address: Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale, Inc.

1700 N. Granite Reef Rd.

Scottsdale, AZ 85257

Office Phone: Mon through Thur, 9:00am-1pm: 480-312-1741 (messages welcome)


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President: Peggy Eischen Telephone: 480-994-5780

Founder & Webmaster: Neal C. Jennings -- petsonwheels@aol.com Telephone: 480-488-2002

Office - Carol Semon, Vol. Coord. 480-312-1741 Mon-Thur 9:00am-1pm Fax: 480-312-1701

Copyright 2000-2014

Last Updated: August 26,2014